Most of this review was written after screening the film at the Toronto Film Festival. It has been augmented.
The movie is just so good. Well written, well acted, emotional, devastating and liberating. I gotta say that Dee Rees is the real deal. The film tells the story of Alike an African American high school senior who is struggling with how to make her family come to terms with her being a lesbian. Ailke played with fierceness and vulnerability by Adepero Oduye knows she's gay but she lives two lives. One where she wears t-shirts with sparkles and earrings to please her mother, and one where she wears a baseball cap and baggy shirts. She's two different people but as she is growing up and becoming more comfortable with herself, she doesn't want to play the game anymore. She doesn't want to wear the pink sweater her mom bought because it's not her. But she' s also not comfortable being the hard ass dyke that seems to be the other side of the coin. She's trying to make her way in a world with very few role models for her. [SPOILERS BELOW]
Kim Wayans plays her mom Audrey who cannot deal with her daughter being gay. She's knows she's gay but she won't deal with it and it tears apart the whole family. Her dad Arthur (Charles Parnell) is a cop and is slowly coming to terms with the fact that his daughter is gay. But the whole issue is simmering under their roof and when the final eruption occurs, it sets Alike off on her new journey for her future, for her life.
The ending is beautiful and you know that she will not only be OK, but she will be great. She will have a life and be successful and will be who she is whatever that might be. She'll have a relationship with her dad and her sister (there was a great scene between the two sisters who like most sisters fight all the time but love and protect each other intensely) but who knows what will happen with her mom.
The last 15 minutes was amazing. I was totally wrecked and could barely get up. It's not that it is too intense, it's just very emotional. And don't get me started on the music. They did a great job with the soundtrack.
This is one of my favorite movies of the year.